Ben Youngs wants England World Cup swansong as he predicts fierce scrum-half succession battle


England’s most capped men’s player, Ben Youngs, is eyeing next year’s World Cup like an international swansong with a number of young scrum-halves biting his heels.

Youngs is 32 and surpassed Jason Leonard’s record of 114 caps in this year’s Six Nations. Appearing on Lawrence Dallaglio’s Evening Standard Rugby podcasthe said if he intended to play at club level beyond next year’s World Cup in France then he would hang up his England shirt.

He lost his starting spot to Bristol’s Harry Randall in the Six Nations and also has the likes of Sale’s Raffi Quirke, Northampton’s Alex Mitchell and Leicester team-mate Jack van Poortvliet competing for the No.9 shirt in this which he described as a “respectful” battle.

Youngs predicts that once retired, these players will have a fierce struggle, just as he once did with Danny Care and Richard Wigglesworth.

“Without a doubt Kev [Sinfield] and Steve [Borthwick, the Leicester coaches] gave me enthusiasm, energy, this sense of where we are going,” he said. “I want to help young people and bring success to Leicester because I want to help the club because I love it so much.

“My target is of course to make the next World Cup. Beyond that it’s hard to see where I stand at international level. Certainly at club level, at national level I definitely have more in me. .

“These guys. The way they play, they’re all busy, exciting nines. It’s going to be these three that fight for years, very similar to me, Danny, Wiggy, Lee Dickson. The next batch is coming and when you have so much quality, it’s only a good thing.

Youngs also opened up about his experience with dyslexia as a child and how it toughened him up for a career in acting.

“A lot of people can relate to it,” he said. “That’s how I am. Rugby was my escape. As a youngster, I was a bit shy, shy, embarrassed in class because I didn’t want to show off. But as soon as I got on the sports field, I loved it and was able to be me, and rugby captivated me.

“It helped me be who I am now, and I think it’s important for guys to share that because there’s nothing to worry about.”

standard Sport

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